Get Started With Bowfishing

By Brodie SwisherMay 28, 20151 Comment

LAST UPDATED: March 10th, 2017

Bowfishing is one of the fastest growing movements within the outdoor industry. It’s been said that bowfishing is now what 3D archery was back in the 90’s. Just one bowfishing trip and you’ll be addicted…guaranteed! Bowfishing combines the best of so many outdoor passions. Bowhunting, archery, fishing, shooting, boating, lots of live targets, and good times on the lake…it’s all there with bowfishing. Whether you’re preparing for your first bowfishing trip ever, or your first trip out this year, here’s some of the great gear to make your next bowfishing trip a huge success.

The author with a big KY Lake gar.

The author with a big KY Lake gar.

The Right Bowfishing Bow

Let’s face it, most guys start out, and some still shoot, those old bows from many seasons ago. Pawn shop bows and out-dated rigs passed down from grand-daddy are how most bowfishermen get their start. But when it comes to bowfishing bows, smooth and silky drawing bows rule the water. The best bows allow you to shoot on the fly at darting fish. Rarely will you have the time to draw, anchor, and slowly settle in on a target. Good bowfishing bows allow you to snap shoot at fish, whether at half-draw or when the string is at your cheek. A heavy poundage bow is not necessary when it comes to bowfishing. A 30-pound bow is more than enough to do work on most species of fish. However some shooters prefer draw weights of 40+ pounds when it comes to punching larger fish and penetrating deeper water. Today’s top bows for bowfishing include the Mission Menace, Mission Craze, Oneida Osprey, AMS Swampit, Muzzy Addict, Fin-Finder Poseidon, Cajun Sucker Punch, and PSE Tidal Wave.


What type of reel is best for bowfishing?

Well, that all depends on who you ask. But they each have their pros and cons. A lot of folks start out with the bottle-style reel simply because it’s fool proof. There’s no buttons to push or drag to set. You simply draw and shoot. For some, the negative side of the bottle reel is having to set the bow down to retrieve fish hand over hand instead of being able to work the fish with the reel, as you can with a spinner. The spinner-style reel shines with smooth payout on the shoot and lightning fast retrieval of your arrow. The spinner reel does require that you push a button or flip a switch to release the line for the shot. Again, both reels have their advantages and disadvantages, and one may be a better option than the other depending on the day, type of water, and what style of bowfishing you’re trying to accomplish. Check out AMS Bowfishing for the best in bottle-style reels. Their Retriever Reel has set the standard for fool-proof retrieving in the bowfishing world. And when it comes to spinner reels, the crew at Muzzy seems to have it figured out. They build some of the beefiest bowfishing reels on the market. Check out both of these companies to see how each reel style varies.


Bowfishing Arrows & Points

While the particular bow brand used may get all the attention, the fact is, it is likely one of the least important when it comes to what matters most in gear selection. Skimp on your bow if you need to, but make every effort to buy the best arrows and points you can afford. Hit or miss, the arrows you use will take a ton of abuse when it comes to bowfishing. Encounters with big-scaled, chunky fish will put your arrows to the test. The splashin’ and thrashin’ your arrow will endure when it connects with a fish will no doubt confirm whether or not you got the right gear when it comes to arrows and points.

Fiberglass shafts continued to be the standard for bowfishing, while carbon arrows continue to gain in popularity, and even an aluminum jacketed fiberglass option from Easton has hit the store shelves for 2015. You can expect to pay about $12 for an entry level fiberglass bowfishing shaft and point. You can expect to see the price-tag for double for Carbon arrow options.
Bowfishing points typically come in 2-barb and 3-barb models. 2-barb points fly great and are typically quicker to retrieve from the mud, weeds, and roots following a missed shot. 3-barb heads offer unbeatable holding power on big fish but can act like a grappling hook with underwater structure if you’re not careful.
Check out Innerloc, Muzzy, and AMS, and RPM for some of the leading fish points in the industry.


Bowfishing Arrow Rests

The bowfishing rest you use is often one of the most overlooked pieces of bh78 equipment on your setup. And it can easily be the most frustrating piece of equipment if you don’t get it right from the start. A lot of guys slap a plastic tab rest on their bowfishing bows and call it good, only to discover that it’s not enough for the heavier weight of a bowfishing arrow. The quick, fast-paced action of bowfishing demands that you use an arrow rest that keeps your arrow ready for the shot. You simply will not have time to place your arrow in the right spot prior to the shot. There’s plenty of arrow rest options on the market that we’ll review as we dig deeper into bowfishing equipment in future blogs. But one rest that stands at the top of the food chain when it comes to bowfishing rests is the Quick Draw Rest from Quick Draw Outdoor Gear. The Quick Draw rest ensures that your arrow is always ready for the shot, no matter whether you’re holding your bow upright, sideways, or upside down. Your arrow will be ready for the shot when you’re using the Quick Draw rest.


These are just a few things you’ll want to consider when outfitting your next bowfishing bow. Up next, we’ll be diving deeper into the world of bowfishing with a closer look at the top bows, reels, points, arrows, and rests. Be sure to check back often for more on the great gear available for bowfishing.

Brodie Swisher
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, seminar speaker and Editor for Bowhunting.com. Brodie and his family live in the Kentucky Lake area of west Tennessee.
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